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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Question... I have a patch of ground I'd like to plant but am wondering how to do it. The ground is growing weeds and grass at present. How do I go from this stage to a nicely prepared soil bed for vegetable planting? Steps I see:

1. Kill grass and weeds. Not sure how.
2. Till soil (with what?)
3. Amend soil (with what?)
4. Plant

I had considered buying used road signs and covering the area I want to plant to kill grass/weeds. Expensive and would take time to kill the grass/weeds before I could plant. Was thinking instead of covering with landscape fabric after I till and amend the soil, so that grass/weeds won't grow, and just poking holes in it every 4-8 inches (depending on what's growing there) to plant seeds. This will gradually kill the grass and weeds except for places where I'm also trying to grow vegetables.

This is my first time starting a new garden plot in a place that's currently growing grass that will soon be unwanted. I'm sure I'm missing something. Garden is planned to be about 5000 square feet.

Thanks in advance for helpful replies.
 

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You need a small tractor and disc or tiller attachment. Disc disc disc. Let it sit a couple of days and disk again.

DO NOT SPRAY HERBICIDES on your planned planting area.

Take a soil sample to the county extension office and have it tested. Have them explain the results to you so that you will know what amendments you need to add.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
You need a small tractor and disc or tiller attachment. Disc disc disc. Let it sit a couple of days and disk again.

DO NOT SPRAY HERBICIDES on your planned planting area.

Take a soil sample to the county extension office and have it tested. Have them explain the results to you so that you will know what amendments you need to add.
Thank you. I'll consult with a friend who owns a tractor. :)
 

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1. Kill grass and weeds. Not sure how.
2. Till soil (with what?)
3. Amend soil (with what?)
4. Plant
There’s little advantage to killing the grass/weeds first. If instead you were to just till it right under, it will die and compost in the soil, which can help return some of the nitrogen back to the soil that is released from tilling. Besides, even if you did manage to kill it or remove it all, long dormant weed seeds that have been waiting for just the right conditions will be turned up when tilled and will begin to grow anyway.

Starting seeds indoors whenever possible, before the garden is even prepped for planting, is a good idea...not just to get a jump on growing before the last frost, but to give your already growing plants an advantage in the competition for those nutrients in the soil that those weed seeds will be just as thirsty for.

Another way to control weeds, especially if your crop gets a nice head start, is to make sure you don’t plant too thin. Give each vegetable plant the room it needs to grow, but try to avoid spacing too far apart. As they mature they will develop a canopy that will block out the sun from the weeds down below, making it harder for those weeds to thrive.

Wet newspaper under a top layer of mulch or straw can act as good weed control too. You don’t really have to spend premium money on landscape fabric, unless you just want to.

Amending the soil can be simple and straight forward or a real science. You can just add a layer of compost throughout, or you can tweak each spot of the garden to best suit the different plants you’re growing. Different plants will thrive best at different ph levels, different amounts of nitrogen in soil, etc.
 

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One way I have found to keep the weeds down between rows is to raid a carpet shop trashcan--with their permission-- and cut the carpet to size. I set up trellises every 6 ft and carpet between them. Also you have a soft place to kneel work on the remaining weeds in the row and or to pick your veggies.
 

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Covering the area with clear plastic will kill the grass without bringing weed seeds to the surface. The clear plastic will heat the air hot enough to kill the vegetation. Then you can plant and cover the whole area with mulch.
 

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By my math you are looking at something like a 100' x 500' area. That is quite a bit to bite off if you are new to this but that's ok.
Till the heck out of it; you really need a tractor disc or roto tiller. Let it sit a day or so and till the heck out of it again.
If you are considering any fabric, wait until the soil has had a rain to help compact it again. Tilled soil is like a marshmallow; if you put fabric over the top right after it has been turned over you will make impressions in it everywhere you walk, and it will harden like that.
You should not try to shortcut treating for weeds up front. In an area that size you will be quickly overrun with no way to keep control. By June you won't be able to see your garden.

Year one will be your most difficult.
I just tilled up two new areas last week. Hard ground near a half dozen trees I had cut down.
Tilling up virgin soil can be difficult. In my case, I was cutting up roots everywhere. After my first pass the garden looked like it had a layer of brown spaghetti. We carried roots away by the armful and had large burn piles to dispose of.
Next year will be much quicker and easier. The year after should be like digging in a sand box.
 

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That’s a huge undertaking. Credit to you.

We’ve just put in a 9x9 metre veg patch on reclaimed field, and it was a massive project. Did it all manually with pick ax and spade.

Definitely recommend getting some tractor and power tool assistance.
 

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I haven't had a garden in years but i just got tilling a 20x100 area just before it rained. im planning on planting then put a fence around it and after the seeds sprout lay cardboard down between plants and rows and old hay. Hay has been sitting around several years and i haven't seen any hay seed sprouts yet. Fertizing with bone and blood meal with some hydrated lime.
 

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By my math you are looking at something like a 100' x 500' area. That is quite a bit to bite off if you are new to this but that's ok.
Till the heck out of it; you really need a tractor disc or roto tiller. Let it sit a day or so and till the heck out of it again.
If you are considering any fabric, wait until the soil has had a rain to help compact it again. Tilled soil is like a marshmallow; if you put fabric over the top right after it has been turned over you will make impressions in it everywhere you walk, and it will harden like that.
You should not try to shortcut treating for weeds up front. In an area that size you will be quickly overrun with no way to keep control. By June you won't be able to see your garden.

Year one will be your most difficult.
I just tilled up two new areas last week. Hard ground near a half dozen trees I had cut down.
Tilling up virgin soil can be difficult. In my case, I was cutting up roots everywhere. After my first pass the garden looked like it had a layer of brown spaghetti. We carried roots away by the armful and had large burn piles to dispose of.
Next year will be much quicker and easier. The year after should be like digging in a sand box.
Think you are off by a bit. That would 50,000 square.
More like 100x50 would be 5000 square
 

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If it's a possibility, burning the area off is a little nicer than mowing as it removes all of the grass, etc.
After you get it down to short stubble, I'd find somebody with a rotary tiller to make a couple passes and get it powdered up real nice. You may not need anything to amend the soil, simply plant it, however a soil test is never a bad idea.
 

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Once I reopened an old weed brush covered garden by fencing it in and raising a crop of chickens on it. The next year I didn't pick a double handful of weeds. Everything was lush green but there was too much nitrogen. My carrots were waist high but had no root.
This year I opened a plot that was covered with quack grass, raspberry, golden rod, wild plum, sumac, sedge meadow mostly with a shovel. It was about 30' x 30'. Once I had worked my way through the plot I tilled it about 12-15 times and after each time I would rake the quack grass roots with a steel tinned rake. Then I covered it with old hay. There are still weeds but no more than normal. There will be fewer next year.
You can cover the exposed dirt with plastic sheeting. It's pretty inexpensive and will kill the weeds in 2-3 weeks.
 

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